The crew of the U.S.S. Mississinewa (AO-59) held their second reunion April 14-18, 1999 in Corpus Christi, Texas. (The first was put together in Dorchester, MA, by the late crewman, Mr. William Dennehy, a terrific guy.) It was a great success. We had a tour of the Ingleside Naval Base, hosted by Petty Officer, Jill Cook. We had a terrific "open house" of the U.S.S. Warrior, MCM-10 and were warmly welcomed by it's skipper, Lt.Commander, Bert Quintanilla. He and his crew were very hospitable.
On Saturday morning, we attended a memorial service aboard the U.S.S. Lexington CV-16. The Rev. Larry Glaser gave a superb Invocation and Robert Kimbel, Jr. and Tom Maher had very moving stories of their loved ones who were killed when the ship was torpedoed.
Saturday evening, we had a banquet where the food was the best we had in Corpus Christi and the table decorations were very attractive. We were honored to have Sid Harris, of the fleet tug, U.S.S. Muncee elaborate on over three dozen amazing photographs he took of his ship fighting the fires aboard the Mississinewa and it's subsequent sinking.
All in all, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had and will cherish the memories my entire life. I can not say enough about the sacrifices the men of the U.S.S.Mississinewa went through during WWII. I hope that in some way the reunion efforts of Sarah Bright, Mike Mair and myself, Ron Fulleman, were able to give at least a little something back to those men and their families.
Top Row (L to R): Bob Jones, Earl Givens, Ray Fulleman, Earl Van Orden, Jim Cunningham, Gus Liveakos, Jim Hammond, Fred Caplinger. Bottom Row (L to R): John Bayak, Ed Kinsler, Larry Glaser, Fred Schaufus, Andrew Johnson, Winston Whitten, Harold Ritchie, Bill Gimmeson, Al Bell, Jack Mair, John D'Anna, Fernando Cuevas, Jim Lewis.
Though all these men have left us, we remember them for the sacrifices they made for all of us, and particularly for their families. Our very deepest sympathy goes to the families of these AO-59 shipmates and friends. They are missed.
The 2003 reunion write up can be found in the following link, Reunion 2003.
Brief Ship History:
The U.S.S. Mississinewa (AO-59) was commissioned in May, 1944 and was torpedoed and sunk after only having been in commission for 6 months, on November 20, 1944 amidst Admiral Halsey's 3rd Fleet.The Mississinewa was full of aviation gasoline and bunker C oil. Sixty-two U.S. crewmen died in the torpedoing. One Japanese "kaiten" suicide submarine pilot died as his kaiten struck the starboard side of the Mississinewa, just forward of the bridge. A Kingfisher seaplane and several boats from nearby ships braved the flaming oil and exploding ammunition to rescue AO-59 crewmen and officers. At one point, when the flames were separated briefly by exploding ammunition, the Kingfisher seaplane and some boats came in to pick up survivors. The fearless pilot of that Kingfisher was Blase Zamucen and the radioman, who bravely got out of the plane to throw out the rescue line, was Russell Evinrude. Both of these justly received the Navy and Marine Corp. Medal for Heroism. There were many acts of bravery and heroism that were performed that November day. These truly were some of the "men that saved the world."